Signifcant increases in the spawning kokanee population have biologists enthusiastic.

Signifcant increases in the spawning kokanee population have biologists enthusiastic.

Kokanee numbers improve

There were more kokanee in a North Okanagan lake and a major tributary this year.

There were more kokanee in a North Okanagan lake and a major tributary this year.

The latest survey indicates Kalamalka Lake’s spawning kokanee population totalled 26,000, up from 23,000 in 2010, while there were 20,000 kokanee in Coldstream Creek, a significant increase from the last three years’ average of 6,000.

“The lake hasn’t been looking that hot over the last few years so they have bumped back up to the levels we saw 10 years ago,” said Paul Askey, a fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

While pleased with the situation, it’s difficult to explain the upswing in fish because the ministry doesn’t spend much time analyzing conditions on Kal Lake.

“We could use more information on all of the lakes but with limited (staff) people, we are focusing more on Wood Lake because it has more of a fishery and algae bloom. Wood is under more pressure,” said Askey.

“Very few people fish for kokanee on Kalamalka. Most fish for trout which eat the kokanee.”

All of the 26,000 spawners in Kalamalka Lake were stream spawners this year, whereas there were 16,000 shore spawners and about 7,000 stream spawners in 2010.

“It could be that they’re trading off each other,” said Askey of the difference between shore and stream spawners.

In adjacent Wood Lake, there were 8,300 stream spawning kokanee and 2,500 shore spawners.

This is close to the average abundance for Wood Lake shore spawners during recent years.

“That’s the one lake people like to go to because the fish are a little bigger,” Askey said of the popularity of Wood Lake.

In Okanagan Lake, a total of 294,000 fish were counted, the second- highest total in the last 20 years.

Of this total, shore-spawning  kokanee are at 276,000 and stream-spawning kokanee are at 18,000.